Yoga Nidra can be referred to as a deep relaxation. The word “Nidra” means “deep sleep.” In the practice of Yoga Nidra the person is in a deep state of relaxation and stillness physically and mentally whilst remaining consciously awake.
The participant rests in Savasana / Corpse Pose and is guided by a teacher from the beginning to the end of the practice. Before moving forward with a method the teacher asks the practitioner to state mindfully three times a “Sankalpa” – a positive affirmation or resolve. This Sankalpa is repeated mentally with conviction and feeling. It should always be positive, in the present tense and as short as possible. For example:
• “I am calm.”
• “I am loved.”
• “I am confident.”
• “I invite and accept love in my life.”
• “I believe in myself.”
Before the Yoga Nidra is complete and the person is guided “out” of the practice, they are asked to recall their Sankalpa and to repeat it consciously once more three times.
The techniques used to facilitate Yoga Nidra range from the following:
Rotation of Points of Awareness of the Body:
Various parts of the physical anatomy are verbalized in a particular sequence which follows through the whole body and the participant mindfully takes their awareness in succession to the various points mentioned. All that is required is mere conscious awareness of each part mentioned without any mental analysis, reactions or judgment.
Awareness is brought to the breath and the person is asked to become consciously aware of each breath, each inhalation and every exhalation. Time is spent on listening to the sound of the breath, feeling the breath move in the belly, the chest and the nasal passages. Breath awareness is about witnessing the breath, again without emotion, judgment, reaction or manipulation to change the rhythm of one’s breath. The process is about silent observation of the breath that is the very essence of one’s being – without this sacred Prana / Energy – we cease to exist. Observation is about acknowledging the breath and in so doing being completely present in body, mind and spirit, this leads to a deep sense of relaxation.
A succession of images are repeated one after the other, images that evoke peacefulness; beauty; appreciation; optimism; joy or love and the practitioner is asked to mentally visualize, perceive, sense or feel the images in a natural and nonjudgmental way.
Any number from 8 to 10 mental pictures can be mentioned in a sequence. Images can be of colourful daisies; a full moon; a park bench; footprints in beach sand; a rainbow; a lady bird; a gentle stream; white pebbles, etc. Alternatively one is guided into a visualization of a light or energy moving through the Chakras / Energy Centers of the body and how each one is balanced and giving of its gifts each in their own transformative healing ways.
A visualization of a “story” or healing element or positive feeling manifested in an image, should be one that represents, encourages and delivers a deep sense of peace, resolution and relaxation.
Once the Yoga Nidra is complete, it is advisable for the participant to gently and slowly ease out of the Savasana position by making small movements such as wiggling the toes and rubbing the thumb over the fingertips, then rolling over onto the right side of the body, resting for a few moments before coming up and settling into a comfortable seated position.
One should take a few moments to sit silently observing the body and mind. To simply be present with the wonderful feeling of awareness and peacefulness and to embrace the profound healing power of Yoga Nidra.
Yours in Yoga,
Juanita is a certified Yoga teacher, Public Relations Practitioner and has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from UCT with majors in French & Italian. She started her Yoga practice in 2002. She has completed two Yoga Teacher Training Courses, the last one through Ananda Kutir Ashram, she has been teaching Yoga since 2007. Thanks to her Public Relations experience, Juanita discovered a love for writing and since 2007, after editing a book on Yoga, she has continued her love of the creative word by writing press releases, newsletters and articles highlighting various industries to the philosophy she loves the most, Yoga. Juanita is also the editor for Yoga Awakening Africa.
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